Written By: Tendai Bushe
Photo: Mana Meadows
Beanie Garnett, who was born and raised in the United Kingdom, transitioned from working a glamourous job to working in the bush and making a world of difference through a non-profit organization focused on conservation efforts in Kafue National Park.
She first came to Zambia for a rowing expedition in 2018 and fell in love! She left her life as an executive assistant and investment manager to a high net worth individual – think The Devil Wears Prada, to pursue a new path dressed in Khaki. In 2019, she moved to Zambia to work with Chundukwa River Lodge. It was a good stepping stone to get used to Africa without diving right into bush life. After working in Livingstone, she returned to the UK but her heart was still in Zambia. Beanie had met Phil Jeffrey and Tyrone McKeith, directors of Musekese Conservation, on her first trip to Zambia and she had kept in touch with them. They offered her a job in January of 2020 just as the pandemic was coming in full swing. She arrived in Zambia in March of 2020 as most expats were leaving and began her new job in April. Beanie says, she completely fell in love with the Kafue and working with Musekese Conservation allows her to contribute to protecting the park. This job fills her with passion and drive.
Musekese Conservation was founded in 2018. It is a very small management team and Beanie’s main role as Project Coordinator is sourcing funding and managing the financial but because it is a small team, they have an all-hands-on deck approach to duties. She also assists with managing the anti-poaching unit, supervising the community members employed under the organization, managing the volunteer researcher as well as procuring the rations and uniforms. She states that in order to truly make a difference you have to work hand in hand with the local authorities and the community. There needs to be a collaboration and that only happens when communication lines are open and each side is understanding towards the other. Only then can you look at budget and see what funds can be allocated where.
She explains that from the outside looking in it is very easy to assume how things should be run and people often make judgements on African based organizations without understanding the dynamics. “It is a very different culture and you will think you have the answers but you can’t understand until you live here,” she said. After working with high net individuals Beanie felt she understood that world and has used that to her benefit. She wanted to bridge the gap between the two sides with the philanthropic individuals on one end and the local projects on the other end. The great thing about donating to a small organization is that a pound will go a lot further and we can easily show where the money goes, she said.
When asked about the best day she has had in the bush she reflects on a powerful moment where she sat in a vehicle in a dry dambo and was surrounded by about 97 elephants. “I love elephants but I know they require the greatest respect,” she said. She recalls feeling insignificant as she sat in the vehicle and watched the large herd surround them as they passed though. Beanie Garnett went from travelling around the world, first class and staying at the Four Seasons to living in a tent in the Kafue National Park and she would not have it any other way!
Please visit Musekese Conservation’s Website by clicking here to learn more about the work they are doing and ways you can help.
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